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W’bago, Wells cooperating on grant application

By Staff | Aug 29, 2010

Austin Bleess

The City of Winnebago received an unexpected bonus when they hired Austin Bleess as their city administrator – a possible housing and commercial rehabilitation grant.

Bleess, the former community development director in Wells, was in the process of putting together a grant application for funds to fix up houses and business buildings in Wells, when he left.

After making the job transfer to Winnebago, Bleess continued to work on the grant application process.

Now, however, he is working with Wells’ new economic development director, Chris Elvebak, and the two men want both Faribault County cities to put in a joint application.

Elvebak presented the plan to the Wells City Council last Monday night, and they overwhelmingly approved it.

Chris Elvebak

“We will be splitting some of the costs involved (in making a grant application),” Elvebak says.

Plus, the two cities should have a better chance of receiving a grant by making the joint application, Elvebak confirmed.

The kicker, however, is that the grant application has to be made to the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) by Oct. 1.

In order to accomplish this task in 30 days, the two cities will be hiring the services of grant writing consultant Chuck Pettipiece of Pettipiece and Associates in Mankato.

Bleess, who was in attendance at last Monday’s Wells meeting, says he will present the plan to the Winnebago council at their September meeting for approval.

He adds he is not sure what amount the grant would be, but that it could be loaned out for both residential and commercial rehab projects.

Plus, when the loans are repaid to the cities, the monies can go into a revolving development fund to be used locally.

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.